Assistant Professor Christina Towers uses a combination of DNA-editing techniques, light-based genetic manipulation (optogenetics), three-dimensional miniature organs (organoids), and detailed imaging to uncover how cancer cells recycle both their own nutrients and the power-generating structures called mitochondria to survive. Her goal is to uncover novel fundamental biology that will lead to new targeted cancer therapies that can block the cancer cell recycling pathways that allow these cells to survive.
For her accomplishments, Towers received several notable awards this year, including a $1.15 million Science Diversity Leadership Award from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, in partnership with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The award recognizes outstanding early- to mid-career researchers who have made significant research contributions to the biomedical sciences, show promise for continuing scientific achievement, and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in their scientific fields.
She was also awarded the $300,000 Young Investigator Award through Black in Cancer, an organization that aims to strengthen the network between Black people in the cancer space while highlighting Black excellence in cancer research and medicine in partnership with the Emerald Foundation, Inc.
Additionally, Towers is among six early-career scientists named Pew-Stewart Scholars. Each will receive $300,000 from the Alexander and Margaret Stewart Trust over the next four years to support research focused on a better understanding of the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.
She was also selected as one of nine scientists who will join the Keystone Symposia’s 2022 Class of Fellows, a group of outstanding biological and biomedical researchers.